Occasionally I hear people grumble or catch a clip on the news about the “next generation” and how disconnected and selfish they are because of technology and indulgent parenting. Maybe that’s all true, but if so, there’s something in the water in Chittenden East. I’ve had the pleasure of coaching at MMU for the past three years and am continually blown away by the achievements of my athletes both in competition and out. Perfect scores on SATs. National Merit Scholars. Admissions to Dartmouth and Yale. Leads in the play, in the choir and on the Dance Team. Junior Nationals. The U.S. Fricken Ski Team. Double Qualifiers for the State Meet on the same day, with standards some 15 seconds faster in each that the year before. Athletes of the Week. All-State Teams. J2 teams. And they volunteer, go to church, walk the dog, go to work. In short, I think the next generation is just fine.
Last night, MMU hosted our Annual Pursuit race in another tough snow winter. With the help of our community and band of willing parents, we pulled off a race for 321 skiers on a 2K loop. To top this off, our skiers are essentially responsible for themselves on Pursuit night because the coaches are trying to run the entire event. In one of those moments where no walking boot could keep me from running into the finish area (Sorry Dr. Charlson, but I swear it feels fine), I watched Amy win the girls race, followed by 4 more teammates in the top 10. I watched Wiley win the boys race, followed by two more teammates in the top 10. And for the first time in MMU history, we swept both individual and team titles.
So yes, I’m bragging about the teams that I get to coach. Their performances have very little to do with me; I generally remind them to bring both pairs of skis and boots and tell time and occasionally offer a place to lean post-race or a sleeve to wipe off on. During cross country, my biggest role is getting them to the starting line, double tying spikes and lying to them that it’s almost over throughout the race. Coaching is 10% physiology, 10% luck and 80% psychology. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.